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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 



Manmarzee album launch: Hari in a hurry

Manmarzee album launch: Hari in a hurry

What’s in a name? The venue was Bora Bora, on Link Road, Andheri West. The real Bora Bora is an island group in the Leeward Islands, French Polynesia. This one is a resto-bar on the second floor. Eternal Sounds is the name of the company that has produced the album. And if that is not a creative nomenclature that reflects the ambitions of the promoters, what is? Manmarzee is what they call the album. Translated from the original Urdu, it means heart’s wish or heart’s desire. That is general enough to go with any album, and goes with this one.

Eternal sounds is a four-way partnership between Pandit Bickram Ghosh, Utsav Parekh, Mayank Jalan and Gaurang Jalan. In Manmarzee, vocals come from Hariharan and the lyrics are penned by Sutapa Basu and Rajiv Pandey. Manmarzee is a five track album that is proud to declare that it saves the rich legacy of Indian music, with live original endangered instrumentation! Eternal Sounds promises to bring back the glory of the myriad moods of nature captured through surreal instrumentation that replaces the synthesizer, creating the dent in the music scene. Just when we thought that sampling, synthesisers and electronic music were de rigueur, here comes Manmarzee! At least on this count, it deserves kudos.

The first of its offerings is the title track, Manmarzee, that brings together the dynamic duo, Hariharan on the vocals and Czar of rhythm, Pt. Bickram Ghosh as composer. Focussing on the magic interlocking of mesmerising vocals with live instrumentation, the duo live-up to the album name and refuse to stick to the norm, or the predictable. Ghosh, incidentally, can play a host of instruments, as was seen on screen, in the video. Hariharan shared that when their last album had reaped success, they (he and Bickram) threw a party in Kolkata (Bickram is Kolkata-based). After the party, Ghosh asked Hari to listen to some tunes. After hearing them, he asked Ghosh what were they for. Ghosh replied that they were the tunes for the next album. It took three months after that, but those tunes took the name of Manmarzee.

"When two virtuosos come together, sparks are bound to fly, and these sparks are contagious. These sparks are sure to set the stage a fire, with their domino effect", elaborated National Award Winning Film-maker Gaurang Jalan, one of the four partners of Eternal Sounds.

Coming back to the album, Manmarzee's soundscape is avant-garde, and uses eastern and western strains and instruments in an exciting mix. Contemporary lyrics by Rajiv Pandey and Sutapa Basu adorn this album.

The filmi qavvaalee style song Nasha Teri Bali boasts of instrumentation that is primarily live, with Harmonium, Dholaks and the endangered Bulbul Tarang (what a treat it is to watch and hear this instrument!), with Hariharan's zest and vigorous rendition, still retaining its softness.

Ajnabee is a beautiful melody from Bickram Ghosh that needed a Hariharan to do justice to. The song’s instrumentation showcases a blend of piano, sitar, sarod, tabla and dholak -- each instrument gracefully accepting the others' presence. (Beautifully put by the PR agency).

Ishq Me Ala is about teen love that takes over the body and mind. The composition is a throwback on an old world charm. Live and Indian instrumentation makes this song transcend time. 

Dariya is a brilliant Rock-Sufi (fusion, anybody?) song that changes course every few lines and is as bubbly and boundless as the stream! This song boasts of some brilliant instrumentation, using guitars to the Sarod to mridangam and tabla. 

Husn, that comes next, is a slow burn jazz-style composition, creating a world of sensuousness through the melody and instrumentation, while Hariharan's voice is seductively mesmerising in this one, to say the least!  The song is an ode to a woman’s beauty and Sutapa Basu’s lyrics tell us that we (men) are defenceless in front of formidable beauty! The use of saxophone surely adds to the allure! I felt the sensuality bit was overdone, bordering on the sexuality.

PDL is the streaming partner of Eternal Sounds for Manmarzee. Says Prashant Dogra, CEO, PDL, "We are delighted with our association with Eternal Sounds and the songs of Manmarzee will be streamed at an interval of 3 weeks each."

Having seen Hariharan’s career from the early 70s till date, one must marvel at his ability to stay relevant. Although the characters on screen, in the song videos, are charged as required, Hariharan, by comparison, and rightly so, is sedate. Having said that, I can’t recall when was the last time I saw Hari so animated. Okay, so he does not get into the clapping act, a là Yusuf Azad, Ismail Azad, Chhote Yusuf Azad, Aziz Nazan and Jani Babu, qavvaals of yore, yet Manmarzee is one album where we find Hari in a Hurry.

It was double delight for Hari that night, for it was his wife’s birthday, and they celebrated it right there.

When you look at his pictures above, don’t miss the funky, designer glasses he sports! Part of the ‘look young’ scene!

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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